Tuesday, December 1, 2009

In the interest of full disclosure

Reuters correspondent Erika Solomon has previously demonstrated both an inattention to facts and a penchant for anti-Israel propaganda.  In a story today which has been picked up by newspapers around the world including the New York Times, Solomon writes of holiday malaise in Bethlehem due to a lack of "big-spending" foreign tourists.  Although Solomon acknowledges that Israel's "right-wing" prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has removed checkpoints and facilitated freedom of movement for Palestinians in the West Bank (also, Judea and Samaria) resulting in local economic growth of 7 percent this year, the thrust of her story is that things are just "not like the good old days" before the Palestinian intifada (violent uprising).

Solomon specifically targets the Israeli security barrier between Jerusalem and Bethlehem as the culprit responsible for spoiling the Christmas cheer:
The two cities are divided by just a few kilometres (miles) but also an Israeli wall that complicates the journey.
Indeed, Solomon devotes 6 paragraphs to this notion in which she interviews a "foreigner", Protestant Minister Doris Warrell, who laments that:
"I have a clear impression that the Israeli government would prefer that I not come here"
And that on a "very different trip to Bethlehem in 1994":
"People were happy and celebrating. There was a checkpoint, but you didn't have this huge visual impediment," she said, in reference to the West Bank barrier... As someone who wants peace for both Palestinians and Israelis, to see that wall there is just an indicator of how many steps back we've taken."
What Solomon fails to mention is that Warrell is not just another foreign tourist who happened to be on a shopping trip to Bethlehem on the lucky day when Solomon was interviewing.  Warrell lived near Bethlehem between 1994 and 1995 and is a professional fundraiser and political activist for "Palestine".  While there is nothing untoward in this role, we think readers are entitled to this information when assessing whether Warrell's comments are those of a neutral observer.

Note also, Solomon's meager sotto voce handling of Israel's rationale for the security barrier:
Israel says the barrier has largely succeeded in reducing violence. [10 words]
As compared to her loquacious parroting of the Palestinian line:
Palestinians, backed by a ruling from the World Court, see its construction on occupied West Bank territory as a land grab and a tool to consolidate Israeli control of Jerusalem. [30 words]
In fact, that "huge visual impediment" has saved countless lives.  Comparing the situation today with events prior to construction:
On Feb. 22, 2004, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades dispatched Muhammed Za'ul from Bethlehem to Jerusalem. He detonated a bomb strapped to his body on Egged bus No. 14A in Jerusalem, killing eight and wounding more than 60; 11 of them were high school students,
We have no nostalgia for the "cheer" of Christmas past.

Palestinians handing out sweets in celebration of a successful suicide bombing in Jerusalem.

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